September 27, 2015

DRTV Pop Quiz (3)

Time is running out to sign up for my "What Every DRTV Professional Should Know" seminar at the 2015 ERA D2C Convention, which takes place Monday, October 5 between 1 and 4 pm. You know you want to go, so I'll wait while you visit the page for the event ...

All signed up? Great. Still not convinced you should attend? I get it. Either way, take my third and final quiz below to see where you stand:

  1. According to hit lists from the last several years, what is the No. 1 category for DRTV products?
  3. Name two appropriate uses for a 'split screen.'
  5. What famous advertising concept, introduced in a seminal 1981 book by the same name, describes how to differentiate a product in the mind?

Take a moment to ponder -- or perhaps to sign up for my seminar after all :-) -- and then take a look below to see how you did.

Here are the answers:

  • The No. 1 category for DRTV products, by far, is kitchen/cooking. See the end note (1) below for a list of every hit I jotted down during a recent examination of the last five years. I'll go over the other top categories, and the bad categories as well, during the seminar.
  • Two appropriate uses for a 'split screen' are comparing (e.g. a side-by-side demonstration) and contrasting (e.g. before and after). During the seminar, we'll explore more than 10 techniques for making DRTV commercials that sell.
  • The advertising concept that describes how to differentiate a product in the mind is "positioning." It was introduced in 1981 by Al Ries and Jack Trout in a book titled, "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind." Mr. Ries has two cameos in my presentations for the seminar (his concepts, that is).

For those keeping score at home, this was actually my fourth quiz. The first appeared on the ERA blog in July. The others are here and here.

See you in Vegas!


(1) Here's that list of kitchen/cooking hits (in alphabetical order): AeroKnife, Bacon Wave, Bake Pop, Chef Basket, Chop Magic, Dump Cakes, Edge of Glory, Eggies, Miracle Grill Mat/Yoshi Grill & Bake Mat, Orgreenic, Pasta Boat, Perfect Pancake/Flip Jack, Perfect Bacon Bowl, Perfect Brownie, Perfect Meatloaf, Perfect Tortilla, Pop Chef, Potato Express, Samurai Pro, Slap Chop, Slice-O-Matic, Stone Dine, Stone Wave, Stufz, Yoshi Blade, Yoshi Blue.

September 24, 2015

Watering Willy

Something Freudian might be going on

Description: A lawn-watering device
Main Pitch: "A fun character that waters your lawn for you"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one of five characters
Bonus: 2nd one, Pocket Hose Dura Rib (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Watch the spot

This is the second phallic Telebrands product in as many weeks (here's the first). Has finding new products gotten so hard (ahem) that DR marketers must go to these lengths (tee hee)? Even the bonus is suggestive! I mean, I'm pretty sure "Dura Rib" is a brand of condom.

OK, so the product is bizarre, but the commercial lets us know the marketer is aware of this and the jokes end up being genuinely funny. Kudos to whoever wrote this. Although the item is unlikely to sell, the spot could go viral ... and there's always Spencer Gifts.

S7 Analysis: This one is all kinds of different, but that's about it.

High Spy Drone

Description: A quad copter with onboard camera
Main Pitch: "Get ... to places you'd never reach with your camera
Main Offer: 2 pay of $19.99 for one with charger, 2GB mini SD card, etc.
Bonus: 2nd one with all accessories (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Bluewater
Watch the spot

This one is a total flyer (smile). I supposes there's a DR case to be made using the success of Spin Master's Air Hogs line -- they even have a quad copter -- but this pitch isn't anything like that. Rather, it more tries to draft off the adult hobbyist trend with a category-killer price. But just like that poor man's GoPro Telebrands tried (wait, is that the same alligator?), this project faces a major credibility challenge.

S7 Analysis: As with the previous product, I also wonder about the targeting here. Something tells me very few older folks are into drones. The same could be said of women, another key DRTV buying group.

Solar Flats

Description: Solar-powered landscape lights
Main Pitch: "Turn your boring backyard into an exceptional landscape"
Main Offer: $10 for two
Bonus: Two more (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Watch the spot

This might have been an Old Gold feature as it is close in concept to a 2006 Emson hit called Bell + Howell Solar Floodlights (still available here). The twist here is the lights "sit flush with the ground, so they're always out of your way." Enough time has passed for this Phoenix to rise again, so this project might have a shot. Of course, people will really have to buy into the flat-light benefit for competition not to be an immediate problem.

Another negative I should mention: The absolutely dismal track record of lights lately. Back in 2006, lights were all the rage. That's the same year Telebrands' Stick Up Bulb rolled out and Ontel was having its run with an updated Tap Light called Stick 'N Click. Today, lights top my list of categories to avoid. That said, there is some indication that landscape lighting might be an exception, so I'll take a wait-and-see position on this one.

S7 Analysis: I thought the original Bell + Howell product violated the needed criterion, so I have the same issue with this project. Other than that, it stacks up pretty well.

Purrfect Pop

Description: A cat toy
Main Pitch: "Makes catnip-infused bubbles for hours of fun"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with bubble solution
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Concepts TV (of course)
Watch the spot

If this concept didn't work for dogs, I don't see why it would work for cats.

S7 Analysis: Toys for pets are like toys for kids in that the S7 criteria don't apply. And neither do the few criteria for kid items I have collected (e.g. 'pester power,' play value). That makes this a project only Telebrands could love: You have to just take the shot.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Gelepads. Pitch: "Puts a layer of support between you and your armrest to take pressure off the hard parts of your body." Comments: The three product criteria covered by the SciMark Seven are needed, different and targeted. This one fails all three. It's low on the problem scale, doesn't stand out as unique and the primary target is people who sit in an office chair all day, which is not our core market of Baby Boomers and seniors. In other words, this is not a DRTV item. [ss]
  3. Kleanbowl. Pitch: Biodegradable insert "eliminates the germs and bacteria found in your pet's regular bowl." Comments: After the DRTV Product Summit in Pittsburgh a few years ago, I blogged about an inventor item I had seen called Dirty Dog Paw Spritz, an antibacterial spray for a dog's paws. "This is a classic example of the 'segment of a segment' problem that plagues so many inventors," I wrote. "As if the germaphobe market wasn't narrow enough, now there's a product for germaphobes with dogs." Well, now there are two such products. [ss]
  5. Stain Stompers. Brand: Woolite. Pitch: "Stomp out stains the easy way." Comments: I can see people in need trying this, but I can't seem them buying it off TV. Preparedness is the opposite of impulsiveness. [ss]

SciMark Report from September Response

My SciMark Report in print for September is now available on the Response Website.

This month I write about Top Dog's Visitation Cross, Telebrands' Polar Pooch and Tristar's Copper Wear Tensation.

Coming Soon

In the upcoming October issue, I'll be writing about Telebrands' Thicken, Tristar's Genie Shape Skirt and Mobile Cane, which was produced by Bluewater.

September 17, 2015

Accordion Light

The multi-talented Craig Burnett

Description: A flexible light
Main Pitch: "Expands instantly where it's hard to see ... just extend it and bend it"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Craig Burnett
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Kerrmercials
Watch the spot

Since today's collection of posts is awfully close to becoming another "Telebrands Round-Up," let me start this post with praise for the commercial. Specifically, I want to call out one of the hardest working men in DRTV today: Mr. Craig Burnett.

Check out the opening of this commercial, and you'll see just one of his many talents on display. I laughed out loud! Besides hilarious slapstick (here's another great example from one we did together), he also does serious spokesman work and is one of the most often heard 'voices of DR' on TV today. Pitchmen, marketers and producers tend to get all the attention in this business, but there are several other folks who deserve to be known. Mr. Burnett is certainly one of them. I can't think of anyone else with his unique combination of useful skills.

Switching gears to the product: Besides being funny and phallic and weird, it happens to be from one of the worse categories in DRTV right now. Even the specific sub-category has nothing but flops to its name recently. There's my Ever Light flashlight from June of this year (side note: guess who did the VO?), MicroMax from last year, Green Beam from 2011 and Literoo from 2010 -- just to name a few. In fact, you have to go back to the Faraday Flashlight and 2006 to find a successful flashlight.

S7 Analysis: The big fail here is the needed criterion (he said with 20/20 hindsight). Just about every smart phone has a built-in flashlight, and just about everyone has a smart phone. This also fails the uncrowded criterion for categories since flashlights are more plentiful and cheap than just about any other type of product.

Table-Go-Round (2)

Description: A fitted tablecloth
Main Pitch: "Gives any table the rich look of designer Italian tile"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Monte-Brooks
Watch the spot

This is Telebrands' third attempt to launch a product like this. The first time was in 2010 using the same brand name -- a noteworthy attempt because Telebrands' CEO AJ Khubani starred in the commercial. The second time was in 2012 under the name Table Makeover. The third time is seldom the charm, but sometimes you have to take the shot.

S7 Analysis: What I think past history has demonstrated is that this product isn't really needed. The "fitted sheet" aspect does solve a problem (dramatized in 2010 by AJ standing in a windstorm), but it's a minor problem in anything less than hurricane conditions. More precisely, it's the target for that solution that's the real issue. First, they must have and use a round table. Second, they must like the look of "designer Italian tile" for said table. Third, they must become convinced that not having the look of Italian tile on their round table is an unbearable situation that needs immediate correcting. You get the point. If that's not a segment of a segment, I don't know what is!

Garden Joy

Description: A kneeling pad
Main Pitch: "Helps you kneel down comfortably ... and easily stand up again without pain and strain"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Pocket Pouch (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Kerrmercials
Watch the spot

In my analysis of top DRTV categories, I included one that I labeled "garden/yard." However, the "garden" part is harder to justify than the "yard" part. Even hits that technically fit the bill, such as Topsy Turvy, aren't made for true gardeners ... and that brings me to this project. For true gardeners, it makes sense. For everyone else, it doesn't make sense. The question is how many true gardeners are out there. Enough to support a DRTV campaign?

The Car Cane aspect of the pitch ("easily stand up again without pain and strain") intensifies the problem because it will only appeal to a segment of this segment. Then again, gardening and old age tend to go together, so at least that sub-segment is likely to be large.

S7 Analysis: The S7 targeted criterion asks two questions that are relevant here. The first: "Is the product designed for a big enough buying group?" That's just another way of stating my question above. The second: "Is that buying group known to be DR responsive?" If the target is older folks, the answer is yes. If it's gardeners, I see less of a case for a positive answer.


Description: A spray for hair
Main Pitch: "Get big curls, small curls or a smooth sultry look that lasts and lasts"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with style guide
Bonus: Dry roller set (just pay a separate fee)
Brand: DiCesare
Marketer: Telebrands
Watch the spot

I'm saving my thoughts on this branding strategy for the next issue of Response -- and that's about the only thing of interest here. Otherwise, this is not a DRTV product and shouldn't have been tried. I assume there are bigger plans ...

S7 Analysis: Again, there's no need to dig too far into this one from a DRTV perspective. I think Telebrands knows it doesn't fit the model, especially when it comes to the uncrowded category criterion.

Twitch Lure

Description: An electronic fishing lure
Main Pitch: "Flashes and vibrates like a wounded bait fish"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Tristar
Watch the spot

I was surprised to discover recently just how few people fish on a regular basis. It's about 7% of the population with about 14% falling into the category of "occasional" fishermen. Meanwhile, more than half of people never fish. This helps explain the failure of almost every DRTV fishing product since the 1990s. The market is too niche and thus too difficult to target using mass media, especially at modern rates.

S7 Analysis: I mentioned the word "target" and, once again, that's the key S7 shortcoming here. Otherwise, this is a cool product that's different and needed by anyone but champion anglers.

September 14, 2015

DRTV Pop Quiz! (2)

Since I delivered my last quiz on a Monday morning, I decided to wait for Tuesday morning this time. Are you ready once again to test your DRTV knowledge? OK then, here's pop quiz No. 2:

  1. When choosing products for DRTV, why is it important that they be easy to explain?
  3. Explain the 'five-times markup rule.'
  5. There are several cliché DRTV phrases almost anyone can recite. Which one, pertaining to a satisfaction guarantee, did direct-selling pioneer Alvin Eicoff coin?

That's it: Just three questions once again. So how did you do this time around?

If you don't feel the complete confidence of an expert right now (congrats if you do), you should consider attending "What Every DRTV Professional Should Know," my pre-conference workshop at the 2015 ERA D2C Convention. For more information and to register, visit the landing page for the event.

Here are the answers to the quiz above:

  • Unlike long form, live shopping and other direct-selling formats, DRTV commercials only provide about a minute and a half of selling time (the length of a DRTV commercial minus the offer and end tag). Combine that with the fact DRTV products are typically unique (i.e. people haven't seen them before), and it becomes critical for them also to be easy to explain. Extra credit if you remembered one of my favorite catch-phrases: Confusion is a sales killer.
  • Simply put, the 'five-times markup rule' states that the retail price of a DRTV product should be five times its cost. Actually, this is more commonly used in reverse. For instance, if I want my retail price to be $10, the cost of goods should be around $2. Of course, this is just a rule of thumb.
  • The DRTV cliché coined by Alvin Eicoff is also the title of his 1982 autobiography: "Or your money back."

Still more pop quizzes to come!

September 10, 2015

Magna Optix

Description: Sunglasses with magnetic, quick-change lenses
Main Pitch: "Just click 'em on and the glare is gone"
Main Offer: $14.99 for a set with clear, amber and polarized lenses
Bonus: 2nd set (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Emson
Watch the spot

Welcome to SunglassFest! (HT: Steve S.) No less than three companies this week are trying to enter the sunglasses category, which IdeaVillage's HD Vision brand has pretty much had to itself for more than a decade. Maybe not for much longer. If value matters -- and HD Vision's history of successes and failures suggests that it does -- this one should do well. It's like getting every type of sunglasses ever pitched on DRTV in one!

S7 Analysis: From a product standpoint, these sunglasses are certainly different and correctly targeted. Whether they are needed is the one that gives me pause. Sunglasses generally solve a big enough problem (blocking sun glare), but this specific version only solves a problem if people need different glasses for different purposes.

Perhaps that thinking is too left brain, though. The real deciding factor here is probably whether people feel magnetic, interchangeable lenses are fun and fashionable ... or dumb and dorky.

Smart Vision

Description: Indoor sunglasses :-)
Main Pitch: "Magnifies, clarifies and protects your eyes"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with cleaning & storage case
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H), reusable screen cleaner (free)
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Watch the spot

A follow-up to Big Vision and technically not sunglasses (screenglasses?), these nonetheless get filed in that category because the concept was tried before under the HD Vision brand (see Computer Eyes). The execution is worlds apart, however, and the first attempt was missing the magnification benefit, which is really the only benefit that holds up under scrutiny.

Improving "color and clarity" doesn't make as much sense to me indoors, especially when it comes to using tablets like the iPad, which already has that superb Retina Display technology. As for the idea that "harmful rays" cause eye fatigue, I think the argument lacks credibility.

Moving to the commercial, it would be redundant for me to praise the Hutton-Miller team. Everyone knows I admire the top-shelf work they put out, so I tend to keep the compliments to a minimum. However, this time around I have to call out something small but special that maybe only a fellow writer could appreciate: They always work in a clever pun during the offer. In this commercial the VO says, "And to make this offer really easy on the eyes ..."

Did you catch that? Pay attention to that part of their commercials going forward. It's impressive how they always manage to find the appropriate phrase!

S7 Analysis: Success or failure in this instance boils down to whether America thinks, or can be convinced, that amber lens-style eye protection is needed indoors. Otherwise, this is just Big Vision with a colored lens.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. PermaShades 3000. Pitch: "The ultra-light, stylish sunglasses that are virutally indestructible." Comments: This pitch didn't work for reading glasses (see Telebrands' Flexy View), so I don't see why it would work for sunglasses. Both can easily be replaced for about $10. As for the commercial, I really liked the shotgun demo. Now that's a torture test! [ss]
  3. Dry Clean Doggie. Marketer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "The zip-up towel that quickly dries up all the wet and traps the mess." Comments: This project meets all of my S7 criteria. The product is solid, and the commercial is compelling. If I still made predictions, this one would be "likely to succeed." [ss]
  5. AccuAid. Marketer: Global. Pitch: "The hearing aid with micro-miniature technology that can barely be seen." Comments: Probably too soon after their MSA 30X (a 2013 True Top Spender), and it's $10 more expensive. [ss]
  7. Curb Appeal. Starring: Marc Gill. Pitch: "Instantly restores long-lasting color to new or existing yard mulch." Comments: Research indicates 60-80% of people use mulch, which is a larger percentage than I would have guessed. That said, I think fading is only one issue that causes people to replace it, and there's a certain pride in fresh mulch. This solution is sort of like asking people to spray paint onto their lawn's yellow patches (bomb) instead of spraying seed (hit). [ss]
  9. Grill Disk. Starring: Joe Fowler. Marketer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "Instantly turn any pan into an indoor grill." Comments: Although executed only once with any creative skill (see The Schwartz Group's Aero Slim Grill), the "hubcap" indoor grill concept was tried three times without success. That likely means people don't find the concept compelling -- even with a great creative. [ss]

September 09, 2015

The People's Pope Commemorative Coin

Description: A collectible coin
Main Pitch: "Commemorate the pope's first US visit"
Main Offer: $19.99 for the coin with case and certificate
Bonus: The People's Pope Medallion (free)
Marketer: Tristar
Watch the spot

With Pope Francis set to visit the US for the first time later this month, this was somewhat predictable. A commemorative plate and cross have also been released. (I write about the latter, which is from a different marketer, in the upcoming issue of Response.) This is pretty much a template in DR that seeks to capitalize on any significant event that people might want to commemorate -- from royal weddings (2011's Royal Heirloom Ring) to historic elections (2008's Obama Victory Plate and Presidential Coin) to tragedies (the controversial 9/11 coin).

S7 Analysis: There is no S7 criterion that explains the strange attraction collectibles have on certain people. They definitely aren't needed, but the targeted buying group must be big enough or these campaigns wouldn't work well enough to get repeated again and again.

Barber Sharp

Description: A sharpener for disposable razors
Main Pitch: "Get the barber-quality shave you deserve at home"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Watch the spot

Variations of this concept have been tried before, and the track record isn't promising. There was Blade Buddy in 2012, Razor Rx in 2011 and Save-A-Blade in 2008. Only the latter has any claim to success, and it would be a stretch to call it Old Gold.

As for the commercial, it's well done from a production-quality standpoint, and I like the spokesman (who is not identified). Although a fresh face, he has clearly done this before, and that's refreshing. Typically once you get past a handful of reliable and talented veterans, the quality drops off dramatically.

S7 Analysis: The challenge here is the same as with anything to do with shaving: The category is crowded with options. If someone thinks they're spending too much on razors, then there is a cheaper solution for them already on the shelf. Of course, the razor companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to convince people that isn't the case.

Yes, MicroTouch One beat the odds with its different "modern version of timeless classic" approach ... but this is not quite that.


Description: A tray for kids
Main Pitch: "The mess-free way for kids to eat and play"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one in blue, pink, red or green
Bonus: 2nd in same color (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Watch the spot

When trying to assess an item like this, my mind goes immediately to Gyro Bowl, but there are two caveats to that comparison. The first is that the "wow" of that 2011 hit's visual demo (the gyroscopic action) was something unique and special. The second is that Gyro Bowl just might be an outlier.

I've mentioned that Snackeez and Wow Cup could be used to finish out the three needed to call this a category, but I'm not 100% comfortable with that conclusion. In any case, this particular product is purely practical and only solves a problem for parents. I can't see kids getting excited about it and pestering their parents.

S7 Analysis: When trying to target a narrow market like this (young kids), I believe even higher marks on the key criteria are required. For me, this one doesn't even check all the boxes.

September 03, 2015


Description: An eczema cream
Main Pitch: "Just apply to your skin so the relief can begin"
Main Offer: $19.99 for a 2-oz jar
Bonus: 2nd jar (free)
Marketer: Allstar/On Demand
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Watch the spot

The idea that 'one is an outlier, three is a category' should probably also be applied in cases where there is no specific category but the project profiles are similar. In this case, I am referring to Tag Away, a project that shouldn't have worked because of the 'segment of a segment' limitation. Top Dog gambled on the possibility that there were enough secret skin-tag sufferers out there to support a DRTV and retail campaign. They were right. Now Allstar and On Demand are gambling on the possibility that there are enough eczema sufferers out there to have created another narrow-but-deep segment waiting to be tapped. If they succeed, we'll be headed toward the 'three' I would need to start discounting my market-size criterion.

Personally, since I believe in playing the odds, I wouldn't have taken the shot. That's because there are other problems with this project as well. A big one is claims and liability. Some assume that because a product is sold online or in catalogs, there is low risk to putting it on TV. But that's an error in judgment because our form of advertising makes marketers into huge targets.

Think about it: How likely is it an attorney or regulator will stumble upon a particular page in a typical catalog? And how would he know whether that item he'd stumbled upon was making money or not? Now imagine that same attorney or regulator at home watching TV. Every commercial break, he sees the same product advertisement over and over again. He is looking for deep pockets (since all attorneys and regulators are), and a company that obviously has them keeps doing a dance in his living room. Get the point?

Of course, savvy marketers like the ones mentioned in this post are smart enough to do their proper due diligence. In the case of Tag Away, I know securing claims took at least a year. That's a lot of up-front investment in time and money for a project with a limited market size. And there's still another challenge.

As far as I know, there was nothing like Tag Away when it came out -- at least, most people didn't know such a solution existed. Not so with eczema: There are many solutions on the market from OTC brands such as Aquaphor to prescription steroid creams. Of course, the counter to that argument is that there are so many solutions because the problem remains unsolved. If the problem is painful enough (and eczema likely is), sufferers may be willing to give a new option a try.

S7 Analysis: I covered all of the bases above, but to recap: This product is targeted to what would seem to be a narrow segment that is already being served with a crowded category of products. However, it may be that a new solution is needed because the problem still exists, and this product may be different enough to gain trial.

As for the commercial, it's about as good as it could possibly be. In addition to hitting all of the criteria for creative in every one of their commercials, Hutton-Miller continues to take the art of the testimonial to new levels of excellence.

Cool Bra

Description: A cooling bra
Main Pitch: "Breathable, cooling fabric ... helps keep you fresh no matter what"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one in nude
Bonus: 2nd one in black (just pay P&H)
Brand: Genie
Marketer: Tristar
Watch the spot

I don't know much about this issue, but I suspect the target is mainly menopausal women. Some of the language and visuals (standing in front of an air conditioner with an open shirt) suggest it. If I'm right, this is unlikely to succeed on TV -- although it could be a solid addition to the Genie line at retail.

Menopause sufferers are a classic segment of a segment. The segmenting looks something like this: All Americans > women > within a narrow age range > of the type that experience strong symptoms. That's too small of a target for our shotgun approach.

Of course, it's quite possible many non-menopausal women struggle with this issue, and I'm wrong. I don't know anything about that and, frankly, I don't want to know.

S7 Analysis: I've already mentioned the key S7 concern. The other one is the category, which was already crowded when the Genie bra was introduced and has only gotten more crowded (in large part thanks to Tristar) since then. If you'll pardon the pun, the saturation point must be near.

Foam Funs

Description: Headphones for kids
Main Pitch: "Enjoy your favorite songs and sounds without your headphones breaking down"
Main Offer: $19.99 for a pair in pink, red or blue
Bonus: 2nd pair (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Watch the spot

As a parent of young kids, I love this idea. A quick story: The other day I ordered headphones for my eight-year-old and my six-year-old. I found a nice-looking but cheap pair, so I ordered three of each. I thought I was so clever! But today, just a few weeks later, the six-year-old is on his last pair and the eight-year-old has one pair left. I can't even count how many sets of earbuds we've gone through.

That's my perspective. What about my kids? They probably don't care. At their age, headphones are more of an imposition. They want to watch their YouTube videos, the ones that seem to be narrated by the most annoying people on earth, at full volume. I want them to wear headphones so I don't have to listen to yet another over-caffeinated gamer shriek and babble about some inane virtual world ...

OK, maybe I made this too much about me, but I do have a point: Headphones are cheap and kids probably don't care much about them. No real play value, no wow (although Hutton-Miller does a great job manufacturing both). If I'm right, that will spell trouble for this project.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Dr. Haworth's Lido Heel. Pitch: "Fast, easy, effective spray to soothe foot pain away." Comments: Foot pain should be high on the problem scale. But if the dismal track record of insoles and portable flats is any indication, it's just not a problem enough people are interested in solving. Even similar items such as roll-on pain relievers for the feet (see No. 5 in this Weekly Round-Up) have failed. Add in the risk of claims here (e.g. "rapid relief of foot pain"), and this becomes pretty unattractive from a DRTV perspective. On the other hand (foot?), the creative is very well done, and the project appears to have some celebrity endorsements behind it. I also like the slogan (see above). [ss]
  3. eRace. Starring: Beth McDaniel. Pitch: "A screen protector for your phone that actually cleans itself." Comments: The problem with "the most hygienic screen protector you can buy" is only a segment of a segment (i.e. germophobes) would buy it ... or even care. [ss]
  5. Ring X. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "The quick, easy way to get a spotless toilet without using harsh chemicals." Comments: The current solutions for cleaning a toilet seem like they are 'good enough' for most people. Toilets (and excrement) also seem to have a weird negative effect on the impulse to buy -- even if every other criterion is met. [ss]
  7. Rug Lock. Pitch: "Nonslip rug grip in a can." Comments: Ruggies was a solution to this problem, and it was a 2013 True Top Spender. But a spray-on version? Seems risky, messy and a bit too permanent. [ss]

September 01, 2015

Bubble Ninja

Description: A bubble maker
Main Pitch: "Make giant 3D bubbles"
Main Offer: $12.99 for one with giant bottle of liquid
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Watch the spot

I can see this one becoming a big hit. Recent category history is very promising (see Wubble Bubble, Juggle Bubbles) and the similarities to a popular app game (Fruit Ninja) can only help matters. As for the commercial, it overdoes the rhyming a bit but follows the H-M format closely enough to do well. In other words, this one has all the elements. Seasonality (and it is late in that season) is the only potential drawback.

While the S7 criteria don't apply, this one certainly hits the two criteria I consider when evaluating kid items: It has a lot of the "wow" that generates pester power and tons of play value.

Was on TV

Description: Tristar's "Official Warehouse Outlet Site"
Main Pitch: "Once 'As Seen on TV' mega-hits at 'you'll never see again' prices"
Starring: Brian Hyder
Marketer: Tristar
Watch the spot

This is a fascinating experiment. Kudos to Tristar for trying something new and different. If it works, they will surely be copied!

How Scientific Is Direct Response Marketing?

In case you missed it, my August Field Report can be read here.

In the report, I explore our scientific approach to marketing and ask some thought-provoking questions.

In other news, as I announced Monday, I am giving a pre-conference workshop in Las Vegas titled "What Every DRTV Professional Should Know." For more information, visit the landing page for the event.